I spent years working in restaurants while writing a novel, never thinking about what would happen once I finished it. A vague idea of instant fame crossed my mind. I thought I’d send my 90k word manuscript into the black hole of the publishing industry; someone would read it, fall in love with it, and I’d be instantly famous.
In my head, I was the next rags-to-riches story, a great American success. This fancy was a delusion. It crashed about a year ago when I realized no one, absolutely no one on the face of this planet, cared about “Michele Notoriano” and her manuscript. Michele Notoriano was the pen name I tried to use. Well, she failed in 99 different ways, so I killed her.
Now, I’m just Alicia Basilica, another pen name but not a very drastic one. I only changed one letter in my real name. Most people cannot pronounce “Basilici,” my actual last name, without difficulty. They usually say, “Bass-e-LICK-y.”
Now, I don’t care what anyone calls me personally: Ale-sha, Ale-sia, Michele, Hey you! All these options matter little, profanity included. However, I draw the line with the last name. It belonged to my grandfather, so it’s sacred to me. “Basilica” is easier to read, pronounce, say. It also happens to be my grandfather’s original last name before he went through Ellis Island. So I’m going with Alicia Basilica this time, and with any luck, she won’t fail me as Notoriano did. I guess we’ll just have to see…